What can we do to protect the Birds

besides buying Organic Shade Grown Coffee?

A Notice to Those living in Glass Houses

Nobody wants to live in a house that has no windows, oh, maybe somebody, but nobody I know. Come to that, nobody I think I'd even want to know. (But you never know...)

Easily obtainable evidence demonstrates that Jackson Hole sports many acres of window glass. It's a lot harder to begin to know how many birds are killed on said windows each year, but it is significant. And a pity: to fly for sometimes thousands of miles only to crash into something you can't recognize as a hazard and die.
Well, why do birds do that anyway ? Birds fly into windows because the reflection in the glass entices them into believing that there's a safe passage for them. The glass mirrors a safe flight path already traversed. Boom.
Some of these tragedies can never be averted. Birds that become familiar with their environs generally can avoid being injured or killed; it's the migrant who has never been there before and is in a hurry to get somewhere else.
Transients. And mostly in migration, for a few weeks in spring and fall. Not often a persistent problem if you regret seeing birds die on your windows. Here are some remediations you might want to consider during migration periods, as now:

1. Put a lamp in the window with a wattage sufficient to break up that reflection, that mirror effect, during those hours of daylight when the sun angle creates it on your particular window.

2. Put up temporary warnings THAT CAN MOVE ABOUT in front of the particular windows. Hang ribbons of cloth, plastic, aluminum foil, pie plates; something that will flutter in any breeze and can alert the birds to an obstacle.

3. Some have had success with irregular patterns of Post-Its stickers on silhouettes of falcons posted on the windows. We haven't but it's easy to try.

4. Another approach is to hang blade plastic netting loosely over the window. Screen mesh size.

5. Of course there's an obscure theory: the dirty windows approach. It certainly helps.

6. Finally, you could dance around in front of your windows, following the sun. Almost guaranteed.

Another killer of birds - as well as small mammals, such as chipmunks and squirrels - are domestic cats. Best estimates are hundreds of millions of birds each year. And more than a billion of small mammals. It's simply in a cat's nature. How well-fed they are makes no difference whatsoever. They gotta hunt.
Cats aren't a natural part of North American ecosystems and so aren't vulnerable to changes in prey populations; in fact they can actually out compete native predators for food. Belling really doesn't hamper a cat. And interrupting an attack almost never allows a captured prey to survive; death occurs later in almost every instance. Keeping your cat exclusively indoors when possible is kind to the cat, and kind to wildlife.

On a somewhat related topic, there's the most unprecedented "attack" by some (usually) male bird on a particular window. Usually a robin, and not limited to windows; it can be a vehicle mirror or - if such still exist - chrome plated hubcap or a bumper. It's hormones. The male sees his reflection but recognizes a rival. He's programmed to defend his territory from other males of his species and must do so. Some birds exhaust themselves, and may perish.

It's a temporary madness, a combination of mating and a particular sun angle with respect to the particular reflecting surface. Eliminate or cover up that mirror for couple of weeks and solve the difficulty.

Bert Raynes Copyright, 1999 used with permission

Bert Raynes wrote weekly in the Jackson Hole News and Guide on whatever suited his fancy and then threws in a dash of news on nature and its many ways. Raynes was a longtime observer of man and nature.